Eight Tasmanians honoured for contributions to Church mission

By Josh Low

Eight Tasmanians have this month been acknowledged for their substantial contributions spanning many years to the life and mission of the Church.

This year’s Guilford Young Medal recipients included both religious and laity from parish communities across the state.

Named in honour of Archbishop Sir Guilford Young, the medal is awarded by the Archbishop of Hobart annually, with 2022 being the second year since its introduction.

At the award ceremony on 14 December at St Mary’s Cathedral in Hobart, Archbishop Julian said the Guilford Young Medal was a small way in which some of those who have given generously to the work of the Church could be acknowledged.

“As I travel around Tasmania and see the manifold works of the Church I am deeply conscious of the generous spirit of service that animates what we do,” he said.

“It may be at the level of the Archdiocese itself through our many agencies or through the activities that are found in every parish.

“At the heart of all that is done are people who want to contribute to the life and mission of the Church. They are in their thousands. It is humbling for me to see it.”

Archbishop Julian told the medal recipients that he was aware they had never sought recognition, and served simply because they wanted to.

“However, today is an opportunity for me, on behalf of the broader Catholic community here in Tasmania, to say thank you,” he said.

“This award is a simple way in which we can say that we are grateful for your service to the life and ministry of the Archdiocese.

“Today you can echo the words of St Paul: ‘Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all the spiritual blessing of heaven in Christ’.”

Neville Behrens

Received into the Catholic Church in 1959, the past six decades have seen Neville Behrens as an active and devoted member of the Church community.

A highly skilled educator and administrator, Mr Behrens has been generous in sharing his time and talents with the Church in Tasmania, which includes significant contributions to the implementation of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

His contributions have seen him involved in a Liturgy Group organised by former Archbishop of Hobart Sir Guilford Young, serve as Chairman of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, Secretary of the Archdiocesan Advisory Council on Education, a member of the Diocesan Task Force and the Diocesan Forward Planning Committee and a representative of the Archdiocese at the Oceania Lay Congress in Auckland in 1986.

He was also a member of the Tasmanian Block Grant Authority, Chairman of the Planning Working Party for the Southern Catholic Secondary School Study, and a member of the Implementation Team for the Southern Secondary Schools Reorganisation.

He chaired the Grants Allocation Committee for 12 years, was a member and later chair of the Capital Projects Committee and for six years he was a member of the Cathedral Restoration Committee.

Following his retirement from the Education Department in 1997, he worked for several years at the Tasmanian Catholic Education Office as a consultant for funding and capital works.

All who have worked with Mr Behrens speak of his wisdom, dedication, and calm leadership.

Mr Neville Behrens. Photo: Josh Low

Cathy Murrowood

Cathy Murrowood was born in Hobart and attended Holy Name Convent School, which later became Dominic College. Her involvement in parish life started as a young child, attending Mass with her mother Faye, and her four siblings.

She is married to Stan and together they have two daughters and two granddaughters.

She has been an active contributor to the Archdiocese of Hobart for over forty years, with her first Diocesan appointment being for the Papal mass in 1986, in which she had a pivotal role in directing the music for the Mass and successfully navigated the challenges associated with having Mass at a racecourse.

Over the years she has run numerous workshops for musicians and cantors, in a voluntary capacity, while simultaneously, holding various teaching positions, at Catholic schools.

Mrs Murrowood also became involved in an organisation that was the first in the world, to publish liturgical texts online.

As chief editor, she was responsible for ensuring the integrity of the text. In doing so, she met with international experts in liturgy and liaised with Vatican officials, to guarantee the work she produced.

During Archbishop Doyle’s episcopacy, she was appointed as Director of Liturgy, and produced many parish resources and provided training for parishes without a priest.

She currently lectures at the Australian Catholic University and is a member of the National Liturgical Council and the National Liturgical Music Council.

More recently, she developed online courses commissioned by the ACBC, for Extraordinary Ministers of the Word and Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist.

Her contributions to the life of the Church in Tasmania have been significant and enduring.

Ms Cathy Murrowood. Photo: Supplied

Patrick O’Halloran

Growing up in Irishtown, Patrick O’Halloran attended St Attracta’s Convent School and St Virgil’s College for secondary school, and then resided at St John Fisher College during his university years.

It was during those years when Pat met Christine and later got married and had four children.

A teacher with the Department of Education in a career that lasted 40 years, Mr O’Halloran has also been generous, consistent and involved in the life of the Church.

President of the Newman Society at the University of Tasmania, he also joined the Society of St Vincent de Paul, beginning an apostolate that has continued for more than 50 years, being elected President of State Council in 1993 and later becoming Vice-President of the National Council.

His work with the St Vincent de Paul Society was never limited to executive roles – He always remained a grassroots member, visiting the poor and providing them with support.

Mr O’Halloran’s other great contribution to the Church in Tasmania was through his work as Diocesan Director of Caritas, to educate the local community about global poverty, injustice and to raise awareness of Project Compassion.

Upon his retirement, he said being a participant in this undertaking and assisting others to be involved, has been a worthwhile activity and a blessing.

A member of parish pastoral councils in Ulverstone and New Norfolk, he also served as Lector and Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist.

For the last seven years Mr O’Halloran and his wife Christine have been volunteers at the Archdiocese of Hobart Archives, where his keen interest in Tasmanian church history and his precise research skills, make him a very valued member of the team.

By living out his faith through service to others, he has had a long and continuing contribution to the life of the Church in Tasmania.

Mr Patrick O’Halloran. Photo: Josh Low

Joan Shackcloth

Originally from Bendigo, Victoria, Joan Shackcloth has been a member of the Bellerive-Lindisfarne Parish for decades.

Together with her husband Barry, they had a very large family of 12 children. Despite her large family and the commitments that came with it, she has always given very generously of her time.

Deeply committed to her faith, she has been an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist and a Lector for many years, while also taking Holy Communion to house bound parishioners, those residing in aged care homes and visiting the sick and socially isolated members of the parish community.

She was instrumental in establishing a parish social group some 30 years ago, which continues to meet several times a year in members’ homes for a meal.

She is a most hospitable person; a fabulous host, organiser, team leader and a driving force, behind every cake stall and fundraiser, helping to develop a strong sense of community in her parishes over the years.

Mrs Shackcloth was a trusted employee at Mt St Canice, where the Archbishop’s office and residence were previously located, and has also been a long-term supporter of the St Columbans’ Mission Society.

Former parish priests have spoken of her dedication, hard work and admire her tremendously with great respect.

Her life has not been without challenges and sorrow, losing two of her children in adulthood. Despite this, she faced her grief with extraordinary faith, hope in the future and is always a cheerful, warm, and smiling presence in her parish.

Her generous, welcoming spirit and ongoing commitment to serve her parish community has been truly invaluable.

Mrs Joan Shackcloth. Photo: Josh Low

David Shelverton

Born in 1948 and baptised at St Mary’s Cathedral, David Shelverton has had a long and enduring association with the Cathedral community, spanning six decades.

The list of Mr Shelverton’s contributions to the Cathedral parish is long, and includes many roles such as usher, server, collector, greeter, and Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist. He has also assisted with banking duties, Project Compassion and is always present for official functions.

In his younger years, Mr Shelverton served as a prefect of the Altar Servers Guild, under the guidance of Fr Rex Donohoe, while assisting with the publication of the Guild’s magazine, The Acolyte, giving generously of his time to assist where he could with any work required in relation to the changes in the liturgical landscape following the introduction of the Novus Ordo.

He has also been involved in the Catholic Hockey Club, the Old Virgilians Association, St Peter’s School Old Boys, the St Vincent de Paul Society and Knights of the Southern Cross, as well as providing driving lessons for migrants and newly arrived priests.

He has been strong supporter of Catholic schools and was always ready to offer support to the Presentation Sisters and the Christian Brothers, participating in countless school fairs, working bees and youth camps.

His support has always extended to the Archbishops, Cathedral Administrators, and assistant priests, and he enjoyed a friendship with former Archbishop of Hobart Sir Guilford Young.

Mr Shelverton is a man of integrity and principle, who is dedicated, endlessly generous and a loyal servant to the parish and wider Catholic community.

Mr David Shelverton. Photo: Josh Low

Sr Monica Shelverton

Born in 1940 as the third child of Arthur and Jean, and sister to fellow 2022 Guilford Young Medal recipient David, Sr Monica Shelverton spent her childhood in West Hobart and was educated at St Columba’s school, by the Presentation Sisters.

She entered religious life when she was 16 years of age, moving to Sacred Heart in Launceston as a postulant and later attended O’Neil College in Melbourne for her novitiate and to complete her teacher training. 

Sr Monica made her final profession of vows as a Presentation Sister on 18 March 1960, at St Mary’s Cathedral in Hobart.

Over the years, Sr Monica has made a significant contribution to Catholic Education, both here in Tasmania and in Papua New Guinea.

For 23 years she taught at many primary schools around Tasmania, stretching from St Anne’s in Karoola to St Brigid’s in New Norfolk.

In 2014 the principal of St Cuthbert’s wrote of Monica “Sr Monica is the face of the Presentation Sisters and the spirit of Nano Nagle, in our community. She has built meaningful and long-lasting relationships with families, the elderly and the vulnerable. She is their advocate and their friend.”

Drawn to missionary work deep in her heart, she travelled to Papua New Guinea in 1982 where she stayed for six years, coordinating village schools, establishing a centre for the ongoing education of local women, and developing an education programme that included six mountain-top schools.

Upon leaving Papua New Guinea, Sr Monica completed a pastoral renewal course in spirituality and self-development and was appointed as a Pastoral Coordinator on King Island and later at the then Lindisfarne Parish.

She is currently the pastoral associate at St Mary’s Cathedral, a role she has held since 2016, and has also been involved in the organisation of Masses in schools, sacramental preparation, and prayer groups.

She also provides help and advice for feast days, visits the sick and isolated members of the parish and those living in aged care homes, as well as support and assistance to Cathedral staff.

Sr Monica has shared her gifts generously with our community for over 60 years and we are richer for her contributions.

Sr Monica Shelverton. Photo: Josh Low

Denise Talbot

The eldest of seven children to Eric and Fay McCormack, Denise Talbot was born in Launceston and educated at St Leonard’s Primary School and St Thomas More’s in Newstead, before completing her training as an infant teacher, with placements throughout the State.

Married to Arthur with four children and seven grandchildren, Mrs Talbot has made significant and ongoing contributions to the Church and the wider community in Tasmania, giving generously to both throughout her life.

A life member of the Catholic Women’s League, she is also a member of the Rotary Club of Evandale, a recipient of an Australia Day Citizen of the Year award, as well as a Paul Harris Fellow – one of Rotary International’s highest awards.

At parish level she works tirelessly and enthusiastically, having served on the Kings Meadows Pastoral Council and was part of the team responsible for organising the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of St Augustine’s Church.

In recent years Denise has become involved with the overseas seasonal farm workers, in the north of the state, which began with workers from Timor-Leste who were welcomed to the parish in 2018.

Her work with the seasonal workers did not stop at simply welcoming them. She liaised with farm owners, provided advocacy and support, hosted family meals and organised clothing packs.

Mrs Talbot is known as “Mum” amongst the workers, many of whom return to Tasmania each year, and sourced musical instruments for them, encouraged their participation at Mass and organised sewing days for some of the female workers, all in an effort to help them feel a sense of belonging while away from their families.

She has also made a significant contribution to a program called ‘Days for Girls’, which provides young women with sanitary kits in developing countries. Starting with a team of 15 ladies, there are now 200 people contributing to this work and more than 2000 kits have been sent to 13 different countries.

Denise’s faith and living ministry is nourished by her parish life and she gives of her time with enormous generosity, warmth and energy.

Mrs Denise Talbot. Photo: Supplied

Wayne Williams

A loyal servant of the Church throughout his life, Wayne Williams developed a deep love of the Church through serving as an altar boy in his youth, even discerning a vocation to the priesthood in his late teenage years.

After spending three years in the Columban seminary in Melbourne, Mr Williams eventually discerned a vocation to married life, leaving the seminary beginning a 30-year career in plant pathology and entomology with the Department of Primary Industries.

He married Margaret, a nurse, and together they had five children, striving to raise their family with a strong Catholic faith, through love and gentle encouragement, which saw them attend Mass regularly, which was given priority over other weekend or sporting activities, as well as praying the Rosary together and attending classes on Christian doctrine.

Mr Williams’ talents and skills extended beyond his paid employment, building his own yacht at 30 years-old, helping to paint the Holy Spirit Church in Sandy Bay and undertaking sandstone work at St Mary’s Cathedral.

He did this work quietly and modestly, never expecting recognition or praise, but doing so out of a sense of duty to the Catholic community.

Other roles he was involved in included serving as Sacristan at Mt St Canice Church working alongside the late Fr Liam Floyd, and being a chauffeur for Fr Gerald Quinn CP, driving him to the hospital for his chaplaincy work, prayer group meetings and other functions.

More recently he has taken on a mentoring role with younger members of the parish, while also supporting charity fundraisers – always willing to help, and sometimes with very little notice.

A man of strong faith, he has diligently served his Church, family and the Catholic community.

Mr Wayne Williams. Photo: Josh Low
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